Jayeshbhai Jordaar movie review: Ranveer Singh in an awkward mix of many issues
Just before Jayeshbhai introduces us to his family members, he draws a rather silly analogy between scientists wanting to know more about Mars and his parents wanting to know the gender of his child. What do a planet and a woman’s belly have in common? Well, they are both round (gol) in shape. A little Gujju humor to set the tone and expectations. Director Divyang Thakkar gives the warning in the first scene itself that “prenatal sex determination test is a punishable offence”. And the whole premise of Jayeshbhai Jordaar is centered around that. (Also read: Modern Love Mumbai review: Dhruv Sehgal, Hansal Mehta’s beautiful stories are worth going through anything)
Ranveer Singh in the titular role has a lot on his plate: abolishing female feticide, ending patriarchy, empowering women, saving the life of his unborn daughter, and rebelling against his family.
One thing I couldn’t figure out until the end is why the movie was set in Gujarat? Why not a city in Rajasthan or Uttar Pradesh, where such practices are not new. Was it the Gujarati flavor and giving Ranveer a rather fun makeover and persona that the director thought would work with audiences? Is Jayeshbhai just a way to let Ranveer experiment with his acting range? Well, let me tell you, even in this otherwise “restrained” role, he goes more often than expected.
The film begins with Jayeshbhai Patel (Ranveer Singh) and his wife Mudra Patel (Shalini Pandey) under extreme pressure from his parents, played by Boman Irani as the traditional Gujarati sarpanch and Ratna Pathak Shah, to give birth to a son – they already have a 9-year-old daughter, Siddhi (Jia Vaidya). Upon learning that Mudra is pregnant with a girl again after having had six miscarriages, Jayeshbhai considers a bad idea to run away. Essentially, the film is a cat-and-mouse hunt between the couple and the men of their village. There are a few lame twists, mostly predictable, a few funny scenes, a few jokes that fall flat, and of course a lot of dramatic dialogue, which doesn’t really help the movie.
Jayeshbhai Jordaar intends to spread a strong message of “beti bachao” (save the baby girl) but it’s not something we haven’t seen earlier. The TV show Na Aana Is Des Laado has been on the air for more than three years and has had a huge impact without accompanying it with unnecessary humor. In Jayeshbhai Jordaar, there is a parallel subplot about a town in Haryana called Laadopur, full of wrestlers led by Puneet Issar, where the arrival of a daughter is celebrated and rejoiced. They play a crucial role in the story of the movie and immediately reminded me of that TV show.
Director Divyang Thakkar, who also wrote the story, somewhat loses track of exactly what he wants to accomplish through the film. It mixes up a lot of stuff and after a while it starts to look like a clunky mashup that fails to stay focused. The first half of the film is extremely lazy both in terms of story and script. It’s only in the second part that the film picks up and you want to know, “ok, what’s next”. I’d like to give credit to Namrata Rao for his crisp editing and finishing in a bearable two-hour runtime.
Ranveer is once again full of energy, though I was looking forward to a somewhat understated performance in this one for the type of subject matter the film is about. He acts funny, then emotional, then mature – that balance works for me. Watching him dance to the track Firecracker in the end credits was a treat, no matter how silly he looked doing those steps that remind you of Tarak Mehta Ka Oolta Chasma’s Jethalal. Shalini Pandey, who we saw as a wise and shy lover in the Telugu film Arjun Reddy (which was later remade in Hindi as Kabir Singh), is impressive in places. Unfortunately, you never see his character grow beyond a point. She has limited wiggle room and you would like to see a lot more, but that never happens. Boman and Ratna both play their roles brilliantly and that’s where experience shows. Amidst it all, child actor Jai Vaidya, who debuted as the on-screen daughter of Ranveer and Shalini, steals the show. She looks fabulous in the film – her wit, her confidence, her spontaneity, her expressions, it’s all on point.
Overall, Jayeshbhai Jordaar is a decent watch, but does it really stick with you and leave you thinking? I doubt. At least I don’t think about it once I finish writing this review. Watch it for this child actor and another loud act from Ranveer.
Direction: Divyang Thakar
Cast: Ranveer Singh, Shalini Pandey, Boman Irani, Ratna Pathak Shah